I stopped by last Sunday just to confirm that I will be there Saturday demonstrating hand-spinning on my Scottish drop spindle. One of my favorite places to spin--and I will be next to Linda Szmara, who paints sheep--and other creatures--on river rocks. Saturday, November 25, 2023. Event runs 11:00 am to 4:00 pm--and remember, it's Small Business Saturday! I'm not selling anything this year, but there will be plenty of crafters to support!
Saturday, November 18, 2023--here I am with Cathy Hester Seckman, selling our books at the Holy Spirit Parish Christmas Festival. Also there: several other writers, including Fr. Aaron J. Kriss, author of Spiritual Inspirations. Children's books, local history books--more kinds of books than they had kinds of pierogies!
A post I saw today: a mustang stallion made sure a young foal separated from her mother during a round-up was guided to the safety of her herd—even though it meant he gave up his own freedom in the process. It was witnessed, so it’s true. Some might find that an incredible tale—as the women of Cathy Hester Seckman’s Right Side Wrong Side would find it passed belief that a man would care whether or not he had a daughter, and long to see her.
A colony world. Limited resources, and part of them are killing others off. Saving the colony requires drastic measures—and a wall totally separating the sexes. Women to the Right Side, men to the Wrong Side. And generations pass.
The sexes meet at Red Cabins carefully managed by the women, because babies are necessary for society’s survival. Female babies stay with their mothers. Male babies are passed through the wall to the men who thereby learn they have fathered children. And both sides think they’re in a utopia—at least sometimes.
Because a story where all problems are solved and all characters are content…isn’t a story. Some problems just go with the territory—power struggles and politics, work-life balance. But people are…only human, even on a colony world.
The men of Wrong Side raise their sons. And a man without sons may wonder whether no sons means no children. The women of Right Side may find it difficult to give up a child unseen, unknown except for its male sex. But there’s a medication for that, right? Is running a government fulfilling—or duty? Is making art a spare time thing—or necessary to life? Right Side Wrong Side asks those questions, in a fast-paced plot with life & death stakes and memorable characters.
It goes on sale October 30, 2023.
George. Arthur. Harry. Romeo. (Because his breed registry, the United Kennel Club, prefers to be able to tell the dogs apart, so I named him British Royals style. Four names.) George. English Shepherd. Son of Jake and Jenna.
It has been nearly five years since I brought him home, and he was an urban farm dog from the first. I brought him home on a Saturday. Next morning we were in the front yard, checking the above-ground potato farms when George spotted two very small dogs being walked up the street. He responded as a farm dog should: State your business. Now move along. When we took morning walks, we were moving the coos out to pasture. (Coos, because we had Highland cattle. Imaginary Highland cattle.) I believe the coos got home on their own, because we never had to bring them back. The background of the photo here is a piece of art I bought for his “room”, round bales in a field. He went to Farmer’s Markets every year but this one. He attended Pet Blessings, and church parking lot sales, and the St. Vitus Festival. (He loved the meatballs!) He loved pizza crusts. To be fair, anything I was eating, but pizza crusts especially.
He had a huge circle of friends. George didn’t care about race, or pronouns, or if you were really a “cat person”. If he said you were part of his circle, then that was that. He had his “posse”, little girls waiting for their puppy to be old enough to come to them, meanwhile waiting for George to walk by, and we’d hear them a block away: “Georgie, Georgie, Georgie!”
He had a pointy nose, and his breeder thought he’d be the last of his litter to go, because he had no flashy markings, just a tiny white patch on his chest and 4 white hairs in the middle of his back. His hair was long and black and silky, and he looked like his mom, Jenna. Movie star handsome.
He was very athletic. He wouldn’t jump on people—he’d jump beside me on his leash, in place, airs above the ground. He’d work off-leash around me, huge circles, never leaving me, except for a quick break to shout down a groundhog hole. Not to leave me out of the fun—more than once he tried to take me down the hole. Then there was his LOG—part of a downed tulip poplar too big for the mowing crew to shift except off of the cemetery road. Taller than he was, even full-grown. George climbed onto it. He walked along it. He jumped onto it. He jumped over it! He jumped off it to startle other, smaller dogs. And then, one day, it was gone. And George is gone, 5 years and not quite 2 months of age.
Five years. If you lose an English Shepherd at 5, it should be saving someone from a charging bull or a runaway tractor. Not from an aggressive, untreatable tumor that aged him 10 years in 3 months. It’s so unfair, there just are no words. I tried to keep him comfortable, I tried to give him good nutrition…but that last week, yes, there were pizza crusts! As many as he wanted.
Sleep well, Farm Boy. Sleep well.
The 2023 Tour de Fleece runs July 1st-21st, so you can expect to see me drop-spindling here and there. (Tour de Fleece spins to create yarn while the Tour de France is spinning their wheels in the race. I don’t spin on a wheel, but I still love to participate.) I am prepping some lovely flame-colored Cheviot-Tunis cross sheep’s wool—and the sheep’s dad is my beloved Chevy from the MetroParks FarmPark in Chardon, Ohio. I bought the fleece straight off the sheep, cleaned it, then dyed it last summer.
(Not Chevy here. I have not yet photographed the fluff.)
July 8th & 9th, I will be demonstrating Handspinning at the Briar Brook Barn Sale. Come out and learn to make yarn—I’ll teach you how to spin on a drop spindle of the kind used since the Middle Ages, older than the Spinning Wheel. Come out to see what I make from fleeces of sheep and alpaca—even milkweed fluff! There will be measured skeins of handspun double and triple ply yarn, and fabric I have woven on my vintage Union 36 carpet loom. That's my Union below, displaying both the cloth I'm making and the handspun yarn I'm working with. This piece is now done, and will be coming off the loom this week.
My first event of July actually starts on July 1st for me, with a Pastel Painting Demo at the Ellwood City Festival Art Show. 1-3PM outside Trefoil Lodge, both Saturday July 1st and Sunday July 2nd. One of my subjects will be a Bald Eagle my brother photographed along the Neshannock Creek. Come and watch, hang out—and be sure to check out the Art Show, featuring local area artists of all ages. The Ellwood City Festival will be held in Ewing Park, Ellwood City, June 30th, July 1st and July 2nd. 11:00AM to 10:00PM Friday and Saturday, 9:30AM to 10:00PM on Sunday. There’s the Art Show, Crafters, Live Music, a 10K Race, a Community Worship Service, Fireworks, a strolling Mascot, and Little Miss Firecracker.
So, why the American Gothic photo? Well, to evoke the Grant Wood painting, and the Mill Creek MetroParks tee to honor Greg O’Neal, the Mill Manager for Lanterman’s Mill, who had just passed. Greg was instrumental in getting the Olde Fashioned Holiday at the Mill running again.
Writer of epic fantasy with a wry twist. Fond of horses, dogs, cats, canaries, falcons and draft cider. Dedicated multi-tasker, I also paint with chalk pastels.